Any feelings of buzzing, hissing, or ringing in ears is called tinnitus. These noises can be constant or sporadic, but it is often worse when background sounds are low, such as at night when you are trying to fall asleep. Tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss; however, it does not cause hearing loss nor does hearing loss contribute to tinnitus. British Columbia Tinnitus is commonly caused by excessive exposure to loud noises.
A Few Causes of Tinnitus
• Blockages of the ear
• Ear infections
• Consuming large amounts of alcohol or caffeinated beverages
• Dental problems
• Injuries to the inner ear following surgery
• Blood flow and nerve problems
Two Types of Tinnitus
• Pulsatile tinnitus is when you hear the sounds of your muscle contractions or pulse. It’s caused by the sounds created by muscle movements in the ear; changes in the ear canal; or vascular problems in the face or neck.
• Nonpulsatile tinnitus sounds as if it’s coming from your head. It’s caused by problems inside the hearing nerves. Most of the time tinnitus comes and goes and does not require medical treatment. If your tinnitus does not get better, or if it’s accompanied by other symptoms, then a visit with your doctor is the best option. There is no cure for tinnitus, but there are a variety of choices to help you cope with it.
Tinnitus has emerged as a serious health issue for millions of people. Despite its ubiquitous nature, a cure is elusive and treatment is costly. For example, in the United States, tinnitus now costs about $1.7 billion a year.
While a cure is unavailable, the medical community has been testing emerging methods to manage the symptoms of tinnitus. In recent news, Dr. Michael D. Seidman, director of Otologic/Neurotologic at Henry Ford Hospital, just introduced two new options for tinnitus relief:
- The first test is vagal nerve stimulation; a small device is surgically implanted under the skin near the collarbone and uses electrical impulses to send signals along the vagus nerve to the brainstem.
- The second test uses a gel injection that may lessen the excessive signaling to the brain that occurs with tinnitus.
Other tinnitus treatments?
Tinnitus sufferers would welcome any new treatments. Up to 4 percent of tinnitus patients are so affected by their tinnitus that it significantly affects their life. Seidman’s commitment is to improving the quality of life for these sufferers. He states, “That’s why we continue to work to find new treatment options for patients with tinnitus, to provide them with relief from their tinnitus and a better quality of life.”
In related news, Dr. Seidman also co-authored a scientific paper with Susan Bowyer, Ph.D., senior bioscientific researcher at Henry Ford Hospital. Their study used an imaging technique called magnetoencephalography (MEG) to determine the site of perception of tinnitus in the brain. MEG has the potential to allow physicians to target the area with electrical or chemical therapies to lessen symptoms.
The future of tinnitus?
While the physiological cause of tinnitus is difficult to define, there are techniques and new tinnitus studies that may lessen the triggers for tinnitus. Additionally, the medical community now has a growing range of options (that are still being tested) to offer patients some kind of help to manage symptoms with possible new treatments on the horizon.
Source: Science Daily